Orbital ATK takes off with Arizona expansion and 155 new jobs

Posted on 22 Mar 2016 by Tim Brown
The Cygnus spacecraft, manufactured in part by Orbital ATK, encapsulated in its payload fairing - image courtesy of Nasa
The Cygnus spacecraft, manufactured in part by Orbital ATK, encapsulated in its payload fairing - image courtesy of Nasa.

Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, and satellite manufacturer, Orbital ATK, last Friday jointly announced that the company is expanding its engineering operations in Gilbert, Arizona.

The expansion will add 60,000sq ft to the site, which houses the Orbital ATK Satellite Manufacturing Facility, one of the largest and most advanced spacecraft assembly and test facilities in the United States. The expansion project will create a projected 155 full-time, high-wage jobs over a five-year period.

With additional facilities in Chandler and Mesa, Arizona, Orbital ATK has a total footprint in the state of close to almost 800,000 sq ft, contributing to over 1,750 high-tech aerospace and defense jobs.

Orbital ATK began its satellite business began in Gilbert in 1989 and currently has 261 employees working at the existing site.

“Orbital ATK has been developing satellites in the Gilbert area for more than 25 years through our heritage business,” said Orbital ATK’s Gilbert Site Director Rick Kettner. “Today, our facility in Gilbert produces cutting-edge satellites for a variety of customers both domestic and international. This cooperative agreement with the state of Arizona and Gilbert helps ensure we will continue to do so for years to come.”

The expansion plans complement Arizona’s robust aerospace and defense sector that contributes $38bn annually to the Arizona economy and employs more than 52,000 workers.

“I am thrilled that one of the largest aerospace and defense companies in the world once again has selected Arizona for its expansion plans, and to support its critical operations,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “Arizona is a major player globally when it comes to aerospace, defense and avionics – and we continue to grow. This is a great partnership.”

Project set to add to STEM jobs

“Orbital ATK’s expansion in Arizona is further evidence that Arizona has a leadership position in the aerospace and defense industry,” said Sandra Watson, Arizona Commerce Authority President & CEO. “Our state’s highly skilled workforce, pro-business climate, strategic location, and excellent quality of life combined with a rich aviation history provide the ideal location for aerospace and defense companies to grow their businesses. We thank Orbital ATK for their continued commitment to Arizona.”

“A company like Orbital ATK could have expanded its operations elsewhere in the country. The fact that they plan to continue to invest in our great community is a testament to our mutually beneficial relationship and Gilbert’s focus on growing STEM occupations in aerospace and manufacturing sectors,” said Gilbert Mayor John Lewis. “These are some of the best jobs in Arizona and I’m proud they are happening in Gilbert.”

Located in the southeast valley of the Phoenix metropolitan area, Gilbert, Arizona has a resident base of around 235,000 and is nationally recognized as the 22nd best place to live in the nation (CNN/Money Magazine, 2014); 2nd safest community in the nation (FBI Uniform Crime Report Data, 2015); 3rd best city to find a job (WalletHub, 2015) and has the highest median income in the nation (WalletHub, 2015).

Orbital ATK ISS cargo delivery set to launch

Orbital has also announced that it is in final preparations for the company’s next enhanced Cygnus spacecraft cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

This will be Orbital ATK’s fifth operational mission (OA-6) to the ISS for NASA under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, and the first Cygnus to conduct scientific experiments onboard the spacecraft.

For the second time, Orbital ATK will launch Cygnus atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, carrying approximately 7,900 pounds (3,600 kilograms) of cargo to astronauts aboard the ISS and small satellites that will be deployed directly from Cygnus.

Pending completion of final vehicle testing and acceptable local weather conditions, the launch is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22, at 11:05 p.m.